Although it excelled in early non-conference play, the men's basketball team has faded recently, dropping seven of its last 10 games.
Tough one-point, last-second-shot losses to SUNY Brockport and SUNY Potsdam personify the Knights' struggles; they have fallen to 8-8 overall and 2-7 in the conference.
"We're certainly not playing as well as we were during the first semester and there are a few things I think that are probably reasons for that," said head coach Steve Minton. Turnovers, poor rebounding and inconsistent foul shooting have all contributed to the Knights' lack of success in recent weeks. "Those three things have led to us coming out on the trailing end of some games and we're working to fix [them]," Minton said. "I think a change here or there will put [us] over the top."
Injuries to key players have also contributed to the team's struggles. Junior John Drazan and freshman Matt Curry, both keys to the Knights' success on the boards, have missed five games apiece. "When teams are getting offensive rebounds, generally it leads to a shot for them that's pretty good," Minton said.
"I'm hopeful, that's about all I can say," he said about the return of Drazan and Curry at some point this season.
Over the weekend, the Knights dropped two conference games to No. 1-ranked SUNY Oswego and SUNY Cortland. On Friday, Oswego's Lakers sprinted out to an early 13-2 lead and were up by as many as 14 points before the Knights could respond with a run of their own. In spite of Geneseo's effort to pull the game to within four points, the Lakers went on another run and were up by 10 at the half. Oswego never relinquished its stranglehold; the Lakers' lead never dipped below double digits and swelled to 20 points with six minutes and 30 seconds left. The Knights lost the match 93-76. Junior Abe Miller led the Knights with 20 points and seven rebounds.
"It wears on them but I think they're young men who are very resilient," said Minton regarding his team's struggles. "They are able to refocus and come back out the next time whether it's practice or a game and get themselves ready to go."
On Saturday, the Knights broke out to a fast 20-9 lead against the Red Dragons but once again found themselves trailing 33-32 at the half. The Knights' turnover problems were glaring, with the team committing 20 throughout the game and only managing to shoot 27 percent from beyond the arc in a 73-61 losing effort.
"I think it's a matter of us coming out and doing what we're capable of, to the best of our ability, more than anything," Minton said. "We come out and have had some great intensity that has not been sustained or we come out flat and then pick it up in the last minutes of the game, when it's a little bit too late. So, I think we need to be able to play with a high level of energy for 40 minutes and that will help make a difference for us."
The Knights traveled to SUNY Fredonia on Tuesday and defeated the Blue Devils in what is perhaps a sign of good things to come. Sophomore Mike Hoy led in points for the match, scoring 18 points in the second half to give Geneseo the win, 72-68.
On Friday, Geneseo will travel to SUNY Brockport in hopes of avenging that one-point home loss, but, more importantly, to keep its SUNYAC Tournament dream alive.
"I think that if we can get in [to the SUNYAC Tournament] we are certainly capable of beating anybody, there's no doubt about that," Minton said.